Kazakh leader meets with Kyrgyzstan presidential candidate

Omurbek Babanov (file photo)

BISHKEK (TCA) — Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s meeting with one of Kyrgyzstan’s leading presidential candidates, Omurbek Babanov, has sparked controversy in Kyrgyzstan, where a presidential election is scheduled for October 15, RFE/RL’s Kyrgyz Service reported.

The Kazakh presidential website said on September 19 that Nazarbayev “stressed the necessity to further strengthen ties between the two brotherly nations” at his meeting in Almaty with Babanov.

The Kazakh presidential website’s description of the meeting looked like coverage of talks between two equal leaders. The date of the talks was not mentioned.

“During the years of Kyrgyzstan’s independence I have always tried to fruitfully work with all your presidents,” Nazarbayev said at the talks. “We will be continuing to effectively cooperate with a new president the Kyrgyz nation grants its trust.”

Babanov said in response that when he was Kyrgyzstan’s prime minister, Nazarbayev was “always providing us with all possible assistance.”

Abdyjapar Bekmatov, a member of Kyrgyzstan’s Central Election Commission, told RFE/RL that the commission will study the content and subject of the reported talks and will issue its own assessment of the meeting.

“The commission will study the talks to find out if the meeting was linked to election campaign and will make an assessment,” Bekmatov said.

Outgoing Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev has publicly supported another presidential candidate, also a former prime minister, Sooronbai Jeenbekov.

On September 17, Bakyt Torobayev, the leader of Kyrgyzstan’s Onuguu-Progress party, announced his support of Babanov’s candidacy in the presidential election, Kyrgyz media reported.

“Omurbek Toktogulovich [Babanov] is an authoritative politician. Our political programs have much in common. We are talking about a constitutional reform, a reduction in the number of parliament deputies, and a cut of expenses for the state apparatus. Both of us wish a change. We are talking about a reform of the judicial system,” Torobayev said, adding that should Babanov become President, he would become Prime Minister.

Sergey Kwan


Sergey Kwan has worked for The Times of Central Asia as a journalist, translator and editor since its foundation in March 1999. Prior to this, from 1996-1997, he worked as a translator at The Kyrgyzstan Chronicle, and from 1997-1999, as a translator at The Central Asian Post.
Kwan studied at the Bishkek Polytechnic Institute from 1990-1994, before completing his training in print journalism in Denmark.

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